The debate over full-keel or fin-keel has long since died out. There is even the chance that the winner of the America's Cup will not be fin- or full-keeled. I see the decision between fin- and full-keel as a statement of sailing philosophy rather than a performance option. I have designed both, and I have come to appreciate that the modern full-keel boat can be a very respectable performer. I have raced a full-keel 40-footer that I designed, and it has shown excellent boat-for-boat speed against modern fin-keelers.

The Island Packet 44.

The Island Packet 44.

It is important to discriminate between performance as measured by wins under PHRF and wins achieved through superior boat speed. While PHRF remains my favorite racing rule, results under PHRF can distort the performance picture somewhat. What we are after is an appreciation of performance, pure and simple, without results blurred by rating "gifts."

The new Island Packet 44 designed by Bob Johnson qualifies for the full-keel description. There is very little definition between the forefoot and the leading edge of the keel. The keel tip is carried as far aft as is reasonably possible. There are two draft versions available: shoal draft at 4 feet 7 inches with centerboard, and deep draft at 5 feet 7 inches. Either way you have sufficient lateral plane. While the keel is blended into the profile, the midsection shows a very tight tuck or radius at the intersection between keel and hull. If you look at the thickness ratio of this long keel by dividing the thickness of the keel by the chord length, you will get a low sever percent. Most racing fin-keelers have thickness ratios around eight to nine percent and greater.

The D/L ratio for this design is a moderate 243, indicating that the canoe body itself is relatively light. If you assume an average keel thickness of one foot and a keel span of 3.33 feet and an average chord length of 30 feet, you get a keel with 6,400-pound displacement. This leaves a 44-foot hull that displaces less than 22,000 pounds. That could be a slippery hull. If the Island Packet 44 is not as close-winded as the newest fin-keelers, its long waterline will make it a freight train when sheets are eased.

The Island Packet 44 interior is laid out for two couples with heads adjoining the staterooms to optimize privacy. Both wet locker and the nav station have been neatly fitted into this layout. The galley is big, and this suits me. I would trade the separate seats to port for a full settee/berth — and my two boys will under no circumstances share anything that resembles a double berth — so I would like to see old fashioned V-berths forward. This is a very spacious layout.

You could probably eliminate the bowsprit from this design with little problem, but there are definite advantages to a short bowsprit. It pulls the center of pressure of the rig forward and usually results in a nicely balanced boat. It gets the anchors away from the stem. It opens up the foretriangle to allow a cutter configuration to be used effectively and it draws out the line of the sheer to aesthetic advantage. You can see in this sail plan that there is a big gap between the headstay and the staysail stay, making it easier to get the headsail through when tacking. The staysail itself shows a very high aspect ratio.

The Island Packet 44 is a traditional-looking yacht with long cabintrunk and all opening ports. The teak cap rail sets off the sheer nicely. The 44 will be flagship of the popular Island Packet line.

Boat Specifications
Draft5'7" (opt. keel/cb 4'7" - 8'2")
Displacement27500 lbs.
Ballast12500 lbs.
Sail Area1082 sq. ft.
AuxiliaryYanmar 62 hp
Fuel100 gals.
Water195 gals.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.